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The economic crisis of 2008 led to an unprecedented focus on the world of high finance—and revealed it to be far more arcane and influential than most people could ever have imagined. Any hope of avoiding future crises, it’s clear, rest on understanding finance itself. To understand finance, however, we have to learn its history, and this book fills that need. Kevin R. Brine, an industry veteran, and Mary Poovey, an acclaimed historian, show that finance as we know it today emerged gradually in the late nineteenth century and only coalesced after World War II, becoming ever more complicated—and ever more central to the American economy.

The authors explain the models, regulations, and institutions at the heart of modern finance and uncover the complex and sometimes surprising origins of its critical features, such as corporate accounting standards, the Federal Reserve System, risk management practices, and American Keynesian and New Classic monetary economics. This book sees finance through its highs and lows, from pre-Depression to post-Recession, exploring the myriad ways in which the practices of finance and the realities of the economy influenced one another through the years.

A masterwork of collaboration, Finance in America, published by The University of Chicago Press, lays bare the theories and practices that constitute finance, opening up the discussion of its role and risks to a broad range of scholars and citizens.  Link to my  co-author Mary Poovey's website here. 


“Making Finance Visible, A Review of Brine and Poovey” by Perry G Mehrling, Professor of International Political Economy at Pardee School of Global Studies , Boston University. He currently serves on the Academic Council of the Institute for New Economic Thinking (New York) and the Committee on Global Thought (Columbia University), and has served as visiting professor at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, University of Nice, Paris X (Nanterre), and theSloan School of Management, MIT.

IBrine, Kevin R. and Mary Poovey.Finance in America, an unfinished story. University of Chicago Press, 2017.

The authors of this book are respectively a non-academic Wall Street practitioner and a non- economist academic, but the text is nonetheless of considerable interest to economists and in particular to historians of economics since it represents an outsider reading and attempted synthesis of texts produced by them (as enumerated in the introduction, p. 23). The authors address their book explicitly to “earnest readers…whether they have formal training in economics or not” (26). Earnest readers themselves, the authors have apparently spent the years since the 2008 financial crisis sifting through the specialized literature, and here attempt to assemble the parts into an overarching narrative stretching from early 20th century to that crisis, with the goal of making finance “visible” to a non-specialist audience. Why is that important? Continue...



“An altogether remarkable scholarly achievement. In Finance in America: An Unfinished Story, Kevin Brine and Mary Poovey embed the development of economic and financial theory in the United States in its historical and institutional context.  Further, they illuminate the interdependent relationship of the ‘real’ and the ‘financial’ sides of the economy. This is of profound importance and represents a welcome commitment to the intellectual bridge-building so needed between the domains of economic and financial theorizing. Essential reading for anyone with a stake in the ongoing story of American finance.”—William H. Janeway, author of Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy


“Few issues are more important than whether and how economies and their financial systems are rendered visible. All readers with a serious interest in that issue will benefit from Brine and Poovey’s remarkably comprehensive history.” ----Donald Mackenzie, author of An Engine Not a Camera: How Models Shape Markets


I.1 The Story
I.2 What’s in a Name? Our Interpretive Position
I.3 The Archive
I.4 Our Readers and Why This Matters

1 Early Twentieth-Century Origins of American Finance: The Rise of the American Corporation and the Creation of the Federal Reserve System
1.1 Valuing the New US Corporations
1.2 The Growth of American Public Accounting
1.3 Early Twentieth-Century Banking and the Federal Reserve System
1.4 The Principles of American Banking  Continue...



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